Cassian Curry: Parents will never ‘forgive’ those who ‘killed’ their longed-for IVF baby at Sheffield hospital

The heartbroken parents of Cassian Curry, a 'miracle' IVF baby who lost his life two days after his birth at a Sheffield hospital said they can never forgive those who have caused their son's death.

Friday, 29th April 2022, 10:00 am

'Small but strong' Cassian was born in Sheffield Teaching Hospitals' Jessop Wing maternity unit on April 3 last year at 28 weeks, weighing 1lb 10oz.

An inquest last week heard how Cassian deteriorated rapidly on April 5 and died from a cardiac tamponade, which is when fluid builds up in the space around the heart, eventually preventing it from pumping.

The coroner then ruled that hospital failings and 'neglect' contributed to the death of the baby boy.

James and Karolina Curry have spoken after an inquest into their baby'as death found that he died due to 'neglect. (Photo: Scott Merrylees)

The hearing was also told how an umbilical venous catheter inserted into Cassian's abdomen to help him feed was in a ‘suboptimal’ position near his heart when it was inserted by two junior doctors.

Neonatal consultant Dr Elizabeth Pilling told the inquest she had intended to have it re-positioned within 24 hours, but waited because of the dangers of repeatedly handling a baby as premature as Cassian.

Dr Pilling said she had no explanation as to why she then forgot to make sure his feeding line was moved.

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Cassian Curry inquest: Sheffield hospital 'neglect' contributed to death of prem...
James and Karolina with Cassian Curry, who died aged just two days. A coroner has concluded that 'neglect' by Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trrust contributed to his death (Photo: Curry Family / Scala / SWNS)

‘It’s just been very traumatic’

Speaking from their home in Norton for the first time since the inquest concluded, Cassian's heartbroken parents, Karolina Curry, 37 and James Curry, 33, said although the hearing was the closure they needed for Cassian, what happened to their beloved Cassian was not something they could ever 'forgive and forget'.

James said: “From the inquest, we were able to get those questions answered, which was good but it's just been very traumatic.

“Every ‘sorry’ they can give him will never be accepted, we will never accept their apology because he should still be here.

Cassian Curry was a “miracle” IVF baby who passed away at just two days old (Photo: Scala/Curry Family/SWNS)

“We walk past an empty baby room every day, and it's just gone past his birthday, we should be having his christening - it's all been stripped away from us.

“Killing any child, especially when it's your child and then you find they had so many chances to save his life over those two days, we will never be able to forgive and forget.”

Karolina said she's heard ‘sorry’ so many times, ‘that word lost its power’.

She said: “‘Sorry’ means nothing. The moment you have your beloved miracle child in your arms without a heartbeat, ‘sorry’ doesn't mean anything.”

James and Karolina Curry speaking at their home in Sheffield after an inquest into their baby'as death found that he died due to 'neglect'. (Photo: Scott Merrylees)

Cassian was the couple's ‘miracle’ child when they found out he was on his way after six cycles of IVF, when they almost gave up their hopes of becoming parents and after James was diagnosed with testicular cancer.

‘Hell on earth’

James and Karolina described the past year as ‘hell on earth’ as they waited for the inquest one year after Cassian's death.

James, who works as a site manager, said: “We still struggle now with going to public places like christenings, birthday parties, weddings. We still can't go and do those. I've gone to work but I find it very hard.”

Karolia added: “Before Cassian was born, we were very positive, very optimistic but since he died, there wasn't a day we didn't cry. This is not how parenthood should feel like.

“We've never been parents. That pain is just so unbearable. There were many moments where life felt like hell and the worst nightmare probably would be better than our reality.”

In a statement at the start of the hearing, Karolina said she and James had a number of questions about her son's treatment, including reports that the unit was understaffed due to it being the Easter weekend when he was born.

But the coroner found there were no systemic failures in the form of staffing issues which caused or contributed to Cassian's death as staffing levels were above the national requirement that weekend.

The medical director of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Dr Jennifer Hill, also offered her apology and said there had been a full review, changes had already been made and the Trust would take on board any further recommendations from the coroner.

Changes in the national guidelines need to take place

James, however, said there should be changes in the national guidelines to make sure the neonatal units are ‘not running on the bare minimum’.

He said: “One consultant working over the holiday is not enough. They are put under so much pressure and things are bound to go wrong. There should be a minimum of two to three consultants on a bank holiday and more if it's not.”

Cassian's nursery, which James had put together when Karolina was 23 weeks pregnant, will remain in their home as a reminder of their tiny baby and his legacy.

“He will save lives moving forward when these changes will get put in place,” said James.

“The nursery will remain a nursery to show our love and respect for Cassian. We’re not going to change that room. It’s his room and will always be his room.”

Both Karolina and James said they will 'try to start living again' now that the inquest is over and start finding things that could bring both of them joy again.

Karolina, who works in the beauty industry said: “I do a lot of tattooing and I'm planning to fully open it now, hopefully to return to my normal life. I've tried to do it before but it was just too hard.

“Cassian had a short life. People say ‘you had those two days with him at least’ but those two days, they were full of pain and that’s why I feel like I want to keep the happy memories but there are just too many bad memories shadowing all good memories.”

Dr Jennifer Hill, Medical Director, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are so very sorry for what happened, and we have already provided Mr and Mrs Curry with a full explanation of what happened and the changes we have made since his death.

“Whilst staffing numbers on the Neonatal Unit that weekend were appropriate and within national recommendations it was very busy and regrettably there was human error in terms of the management of Cassian’s umbilical venous catheter.

“This was a very rare incident, and everyone involved in Cassian’s care is devastated. There has been a full review of what happened, and changes have already been made to limit the chances of this happening again.”